Red Dead Redemption 2 has been one of the most anticipated games of 2018. It’s an exciting title, even from the standpoint of someone who isn’t into the series: It looks stunning, you can do everything from dancing to conducting large-scale heists, and there are >extensive customization and weapon options to make for fun, diverse action that will maintain your interest for dozens of hours—at least around 65 hours, to be exact.
A new Vulture feature has provided insight into various aspects of Red Dead Redemption 2’s development, including the particularly troubling revelation that the game’s development team was put through 100-hour work weeks several times in 2018.
Dan Houser, Rockstar Games’ vice-president for creative, says that “the finished game includes 300,000 animations, 500,000 lines of dialogue and many more lines of code.”
For every Red Dead Redemption 2 commercial and trailer, he says the team “probably made 70 versions, but the editors may make several hundred.”
This revelation comes to the alarm of many developers and consumers on social media, and has prompted discussion about crunch, worker exploitation and the need for unionization in the videogames industry—a conversation that has only become more prominent following the recent majority studio closure at Telltale Games.
The Vulture feature is worth a read, as it also reveals the Red Dead team has been actively working to address the criticism aimed at the studio’s past games for lacking empowered women. Houser believes this won’t be an issue in Red Dead Redemption 2, since it will feature (among others) “this old intellectual called Lillian Powell, who’s come back to the South from New York, who’s almost like a Dorothy Parker character. There are also ones who are weak and ones who are weak and become strong and ones who think they’re strong but are not. And that goes for men, too.”
Houser goes on to say that the women’s suffrage movement also plays a role in the story, for “it was a time when women were beginning to question [their roles], and the Wild West was an area where people could invent themselves for the first time; many of the people who were inventing themselves were women.”
The final script for the game’s main story is about 2,000 pages long, but once you include all the side missions and additional dialogue, Houser estimates the pile “would be eight feet high.” The motion-capture work took 2,200 days, with 1,200 actors lending their talents to the game.
It’s clear that Red Dead Redemption 2 is aiming to push the limits of videogames, as is Rockstar’s wont—the development team has focused on creating an experience that is bigger and better than not only its predecessors in the franchise, but also many other games in the industry overall. But it’s important for consumers to consider the human cost behind what it takes to make games like this.
Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released on Oct. 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.